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March 25, 2008
New offensive coordinator James Franklin arrives from Kansas State to work with a team that returns 10 starters on offense. Franklin's first tasks involve settling the quarterback situation and finding a tailback to replace the talented tandem of Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore. Rebuilding the defensive line and the secondary are the priorities on defense.
Ralph Friedgen brings back 10 starters on the offensive side of the ball.
Offense—10: T Scott Burley, G Phil Costa, TE Dan Gronkowski, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, FB Cory Jackson, G Dane Randolph, G Jaimie Thomas, QB Chris Turner, C Edwin Williams, WR LaQuan Williams.
Defense—5: CB Kevin Barnes, LB Trey Covington, LB Moses Fokou, E Jeremy Navarre, LB Dave Philistin.
Special teams—2: P Travis Baltz, K Obi Egekeze.
POSITIONS OF STRENGTH
Heyward-Bey, Isaiah Williams, LaQuan Williams and Danny Oquendo return at wide receiver after combining to catch 110 passes for 1,494 yards last season. All the injuries the Terrapins endured on the offensive line should pay off this fall. The Terps return five linemen who made at least seven starts last season.
HELP IS NEEDED
The losses of defensive tackles Dre Moore and Carlos Feliciano leave Maryland with a couple of big holes on the defensive line. Barnes is the only returning starter in the secondary. Maryland also must replace tailbacks Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball, who combined to rush for 1,573 yards and 25 touchdowns last season.
KEEP AN EYE ON
CB Michael Carter: This junior college transfer redshirted last season, but he could make a major impact this season because of Maryland's lack of experience in the secondary.
QB Josh Portis: Portis, who began his career at Florida, should push Turner and Jordan Steffy for playing time. Turner and Steffy combined for just nine touchdown passes last year, so Portis could stake his claim to the job with a productive spring.
TB Da'Rel Scott: Although nagging injuries bothered him for much of his redshirt freshman season, Scott showed flashes of big-play ability late in the season. This former four-star prospect could emerge as an every-down back if he can stay healthy.
HIS TIME IS NOW
WR Isaiah Williams has all the physical tools you want to see from a receiver, but he never has compiled more than 28 catches or 395 receiving yards in a season. Williams, a senior, has the ability to play professionally, but it might not happen unless he increases his production this season.
The arrival of new offensive coordinator James Franklin from Kansas State will garner most of the attention around College Park this spring, particularly since coach Ralph Friedgen has been hesitant to give up play-calling responsibilities in the past. Friedgen has served as his own offensive coordinator the past two years. It will be interesting to see how Franklin's arrival impacts Maryland's unsettled quarterback situation.
Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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